Report: Flip says no to Gophers

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 31, 2013 - 12:08 AM

The ex-Wolves coach reportedly turned down his alma mater’s offer.


Flip Saunders met with ESPN colleague Dan Dakich in February when the Gophers faced Indiana at Williams Arena last month.

Photo: kyndell.harkness • ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger


Less than a week has passed in the Gophers’ quest to replace fired men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith. There is still plenty of time and opportunity, and there are plenty of candidates available, to get this right.

But in what marked an early trend, Flip Saunders — a candidate widely assumed to be, at the very least, a good backup plan — has turned down the Gophers’ job offer, according to multiple reports, including ESPN’s Andy Katz.

Saunders, a former Gophers player and Timberwolves coach, currently works as an NBA analyst for ESPN.

Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague declined comment when reached Saturday. Senior associate AD Mike Ellis could not be reached for comment.

Whichever coach Teague ends up hiring will be, he hopes, part of the foundation for the entire house he wants to build in Minnesota. As such, the process takes time. There are politics involved, discrete conversations and major decisions to be made.

But because of the way the first workweek has unfolded, some fans have begun to panic, wondering whether the university has a plan or whether the administration is already grasping at straws.

Reports connected the Gophers reaching out to four separate candidates this week, none of whom accepted the job. Rumors flew about the Gophers pursuing Shaka Smart, who shortly after agreed to an extension at Virginia Commonwealth. Talks centered around Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg next, and he told the Des Moines Register that the Gophers reached out but never offered the job. Hoiberg, like Smart, signed a long extension.

Katz reported that Brad Stevens was the next target, but the Butler coach has made it clear he isn’t interested in leaving Indianapolis. By the time the weekend rolled around, there were reports that Teague and Ellis had turned their attention to Saunders, who had quickly become a fan favorite and won the support of many outspoken boosters.

Saturday’s reports about Saunders don’t leave the Gophers scrambling yet, but it also doesn’t help the perception of the search.

Teague and Ellis have a reputation nationwide for being some of the best-connected in the business, thanks to Ellis’ successful Villa 7 program, an annual meet-up between ADs and high-level assistants.

There is still much to play out, and the Gophers could very well impress their fans if they find the right guy. Discussion of Marquette’s Buzz Williams, a Villa 7 alum with whom Teague and Ellis are close, has generated some excitement. With the Golden Eagles losing in the Elite Eight on Saturday, there is an opportunity available for Minnesota to instigate talks.

Other coaches Teague could pursue include Florida Gulf Coast’s Andy Enfield, whose team was eliminated on Friday, and Xavier’s Chris Mack.

The university administration has been quiet regarding the job opening since Monday’s news conference announcing Smith’s firing, so any information about the search so far is believed to be coming from other sources.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Detroit 4 1st Qtr 6:41
Philadelphia 18
Portland 9 1st Qtr 6:21
Cleveland 13
Sacramento 6:30 PM
Boston 7:00 PM
Dallas 7:00 PM
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Washington 9:30 PM
Toronto 6:30 PM
New Jersey
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 12 1st Half 12:24
Winthrop 13 1st Half 13:46
Coastal Carolina 13
Lafayette 9 1st Half 12:30
Colgate 12
Northeastern 8 1st Half 11:50
Drexel 5
Wake Forest 7 1st Half 13:51
Florida State 4
Rhode Island 13 1st Half 12:23
Fordham 14
Delaware 12 1st Half 13:15
James Madison 13
South Carolina 15 1st Half 12:10
LSU 17
New Hampshire 6 1st Half 15:34
Maine 0
Seton Hall 18 1st Half 11:00
Marquette 18
Binghamton 11 1st Half 13:43
American Univ 10 1st Half 14:34
Navy 14
Elon 5 1st Half 13:18
UNC-Wilmington 17
Wright State 11 1st Half 11:48
Oakland 14
Minnesota 15 1st Half 11:52
Penn State 15
Duquesne 5 1st Half 13:40
Richmond 20
SMU 6 1st Half 12:08
South Florida 9
Hartford 11 1st Half 12:52
Stony Brook 6
Albany 5 1st Half 10:28
Vermont 8
Hofstra 7 1st Half 12:43
William & Mary 18
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
Radford 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 6:30 PM
Notre Dame
Texas Tech 6:30 PM
Oregon State 7:00 PM
Arizona State
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Rice 7:00 PM
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Kansas 8:00 PM
Oregon 9:00 PM
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 12 1st Half 12:56
Binghamton 8
Akron 6 1st Half 14:48
Ohio U 21
Ball State 14 1st Half 11:32
Miami-Ohio 8
Memphis 10 1st Half 13:47
Cincinnati 8
East Carolina 4 1st Half 16:29
(2) Connecticut 12
Murray State 11 1st Half 12:21
Eastern Illinois 16
Kent State 15 1st Half 13:23
Central Michigan 18
UT Martin 17 1st Half 12:28
Tennessee St 12
Eastern Michigan 6 1st Half 15:54
Western Mich 11
Bucknell 8 1st Half 13:50
Lehigh 11
Indiana 10 1st Half 13:35
Michigan State 9
Colgate 13 1st Half 13:52
Lafayette 10
Fordham 10 1st Half 11:28
Davidson 12
Duquesne 11 1st Half 15:05
St Bonaventure 0
George Mason 6 1st Half 15:53
VA Commonwealth 8
Detroit 8 1st Half 13:26
Youngstown St 9
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Austin Peay 7:00 PM
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM


question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters